Thursday, 15 October 2015

War Galley - The miniatures game?

As some of you will know, a few months ago I embarked on a mission so boring that even I thought I was mad to do it. 

Believe me, hexing out a 12' by 6' table in 3" hexes (actually 7 cm across flats) is not a joyful experience.


I did it because I'm coming to the opinion that ancient naval games are probably best played out on a gridded playing surface, a hex grid (or 'squexes') probably being best. The grid might also prove useful for future games with WW1 aeroplanes.

Whilst I intend to re-write my Fleet of Battle rules for use with hexes at some point, I also purchased War Galley by GMT games. This hex based board game was recommended to me at a show a couple of years back. 

Last night, Graham and I played through the smallest scenario. We didn't use miniatures. Instead we used the board game straight out of the box. 

I thought this would be the easiest way to play the game for the first time. 

The game played quite well, I think. The rules are complex enough to make the game interesting but simple enough to pick up quickly. The most complex part of the game is sorting groups of ships into squadrons for activation at the start of each turn - ships are not in fixed squadrons. This isn't difficult in itself; remembering what is in each squadron and what has activated in each turn is more so, even with just a dozen or so ships a side. 

What was irritating about the game was the small size of the hexes (20 mm), ship counters and recording counters involved in the game: War Galley is probably the most 'fiddly' game I've ever played - it is awful! Perhaps it's because I'm no longer used to playing these small counter board games; whatever, I doubt I'll play it as a boardgame again.

Next week we will play it again, but this time on much bigger hexes using my model galleys. 

We'll use the recording counters from the game but as the table hexes are three and a half times bigger, and have sufficient vacant room to hold them easily, we will not endlessly knock stuff in nearby hexes about.

Beads denote side (red Roman, green Carthaginian). Each fleet has two grades of quinquireme. This Carthaginian galley has one green bead - so it is 'type 1'.

I'm going to do a scenario based on Drepanum in the scenario book. I've scaled down the number of galleys involved from 31 a side to 21 a side; otherwise force composition is as per the GMT scenario. This should make the game quicker and give a little more sea room. Having played last night, I don't see any advantage in fielding 31 galleys a side; I think 21 will do just as well. Scaling seems to be quite arbitrary within the rules, ranging from one to one to one to ten; I've increased the scaling for this scenario from one to four to one to six, which still falls well within range. 

I've also changed the initial deployments to something that I believe is much nearer to the starting positions just before battle was joined proper. It's something close to a halfway house between the two possible set ups in the scenario book.

I've played this battle several times before using other rules, so it's quite a good one to do using War Galley mechanics. 
It will give me a good idea of what these rules can offer. 

I'm hopeful about these rules; I'll post an after action report at the end of next week.

Note to self - get the back of that office chair fixed!

8 comments:

Paul O'G said...

I have War Galley and love it (get the expansion Salamis too) I am so wonderfully thrilled and envious of your ancient galley setup and models. I've dreamed about having such a collection but thus far don't have an equally interested opponent to justify the expense. One day maybe!

PS If you want some inspiration fiction along these lines check out JohnStack's Captain of Rome series set in the First Punic War- good stuff!
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7542368-captain-of-rome

cheers!

JAMES ROACH said...

Read the first one and enjoyed it, and will get around to this one as soon as I finish the third to last Sharpe novel. Started reading the Sharpe series at the start of the summer, and 20 books in I'm feeling slightly jaded and probably will not read the last two.

Ray Rousell said...

Not heard of War Galley??? I'll take a look at them. Great looking game though.

Gonsalvo said...

I am working my way towards re-writing the Renaissance Galley rooms, and in doing so it definitely seemed to me that a gridded board would make sense - I'll probably do squares, just making the corners - To the Strongest style.

JAMES ROACH said...

Hi Peter, yes, I think TTS is definitely an option. I love TTS. My only quibbles might be that in naval games, unless your plan is to base more than one ship a stand, is to allow for a greater option for movement, and wind direction might be harder. Otherwise, I think grids are best.

Good luck and send me a copy when they are done. Langton Miniatures galleys are on my list of future purchases - a set of rules to go with them...............

James

GarethG said...

Haven't played War Galley, but I still have the old AH Trireme game. I don't know how well the two compare. Trireme has options for a detailed individual ships game with lots of record keeping, or a fast play game with no record keeping, but much less detail, a bit like the old WRG Ancient Naval rules they produced in the 1970's.

Love the look of the game. I would think about getting some miniatures, but I have a pile of Renaissance galleys to paint up first.

landandnavy said...

You ships look splendid. What manufacturer they are from?

JAMES ROACH said...

Thanks. Ships are Xyston 1:600